haYom arba’a yomim laOmer: netzach she b’chesed

“from the diligence of Haman learn to do with enthusiasm the will of Mordechai”

americans like their victories to be decisive and one-sided, it seems….so do Jews (american or otherwise) though our preferred mode seems to be snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.  and that is because our enemies have a knack for being implacable and monomaniacal. what the Besht is urging here is that we actually learn a little netzach (endurance, diligence, ambition, or victory) lesson from our persistent foes.  as intent on destruction as they are, so should we be intent on chesed.

netzach veers back to the right side of the etz chaim and aligns under chesed, so the distance between chesed and netzach is already short on the sefirotic tree.  but we arrive at netzach (victory) by way of tiferet (balance, compassion), and that will be important to remember.  think for a second about what all the martial arts teach about centeredness before redirecting action and you will see the parallel clearly.  after all, aikido is sometimes translated as the “way of the harmonious spirit.”

as Matisyahu sings, we are all “warriors fighting for [our] souls,”  and we do that battle by way of netzach. we’ve already said that the beauty of tiferet is in being ready–the victory in netzach is in being steady.  we mentioned in the discussion of chesed already that there is a necessary aspect of ongoingness in doing chesed….that one-off acts of kindness are lesser than sustaining ones. well, bolstered by endurance in netzach our chesed practice can be what Morinis calls “generous sustaining benevolence.”

the ambition aspect of netzach also adds a note of forward motion to the mix.  something like netzach ambition, steadiness and drive made Moshe Rabbeinu what he was.  we know that he did not begin in confident striding toward his role as the on-the-ground (’embedded” if you will) spokesagent for G’d’s power of redemption.  he drove himself into and through the role of leader of the People, relying on that same endurance, tolerance, and abiding faith to cajole G’d into continuing the freedom march of the Israelites even when their own powers of steadiness, ambition, endurance and abiding faith flagged again and again and again.  the persistence of his chesed toward Israel truly faltered only once….and it cost Moshe his share in  the simple reward of passing over into the Land of Promise.  his was  a great act of chesed shel emet, true kindness without personal reward….and all via netzach in chesed.

mussar for netzach she b’chesed

netzach-chesed with another….bein adam l’chaveiro   do something memorable and sustaining for your people–your family, your friends, maybe your students or others who look to you for important guidance.

netzach-chesed with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo   do you remember the core lessons that shaped you?  that you needed more than one iteration to take to heart?  do you remember the persistent, enduring, persevering work that teachers, friends, family and  especially parents did (may still do) for you?   now, what do you say?  if you can, do.

kabbalah for netzach she b’chesed

in assiyah….the world of doing/completion    we are taught  “righteousness, righteousness, shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). the word for pursue is the same as that used for hunting someone down.  it is not enough to sit back and agree that righteousness is a good thing.  get out there and volunteer, or protest, or counterprotest…but get out there and participater persistently in a movement intending chesed…get that couch potato, indwelling  nefesh out there!  random acts of kindness are not netzach in chesed!

in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation   we are all tested in life. Avraham Avinu, the master of chesed, was tested sorely 10 times….and in none of them was his mastery of chesed itself tested!  it was his strength in chesed that bore him up as he worked through each test.  that is the way: you will be tested in your weaknesses that you may rectify them…your job is to pull up those sparks.  use netzach in chesed to do the good work you’ve intended to do by visualizing yourself leading a stiff-necked person…yourself!

in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation   you are heir to the enduring physical and spiritual struggles of a small but mighty People.  we are loved by G’d’s everlasting love–now, what are you going to do with that constant divine flow? energy wants to be used in the world.  meditate on your warriorship,  both for your own soul way and for the generation of souls in which you have grown up.

in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition   the word ‘olam‘ has both the sense of eternal and the sense of hidden.  deep within each of us is a faith…that may be more or less hidden.  meditate on how you can nuture that faith…almost an instinct…and abide in it, turning away the easy, comfortable  blandishments of a secular culture.   is matzah just in the eating?  or does it mark something much greater?

kinyan 4 of 48 ways to acquire Torah

Sichlut haLev….Living with a Perceptive Heart   Yaakov said “surely G’d is in this place, and i, i didn’t know it.”  the way of Sichlut haLev is the way of Yaakov, the way of Avraham, the way of Yitzchak. they all 3 answered a call from G’d, as did Moshe…..but as also did Aharon. did Aharon get a call from an angel? did he dream a ladder? did he answer from the altar?  no, his call came simply in seeing the return of his brother Moshe, who revealed what was to be done. Aharon persisted without a direct dream or vision for the longest time!  he perceived the voice of G’d acting in Moshe, and that was all it took.  the perceptive heart will intuit more and more meaning from Torah as it is used.  aerobic conditioning is not the only  cardio work you should be doing: train yourself a heart of wisdom by bringing it to Torah learning in every encounter.  your endurance  for study will grow, and your understandings will multiply.

so, what do you think?

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